I got tired of having my device chargers cluttering up my floor and counter space. When I had to unplug my lamp just to charge another device, I decided I needed a charging station. Typical charging stations are designed to sit on a counter or shelf, but I didn't want to take up that valuable space. I decided to move to the wall, and build a device charger into a floating shelf. I had recently acquired a large pallet, so this would be a pallet wood project as well. Keep reading (and watch the video) to see how it was done.
Step 1: Prepping the Pallet Wood
Thanks to Craigslist, I had recently picked up an oversize pallet. Granted this is not your typical pallet, as the boards were 15/16" thick, but the same ideas can be applied to other pallets or "clean" wood from the home store.
To disassemble the pallet, I used a hammer and crowbar to [slightly] separate the planks from the pallet. Once I had a little space between the boards, I cut off the nails with a reciprocating saw. Once the boards were removed, I used a nail set and a hammer to pound out the tops of the nails from the back.
Using this method saved me from splitting the boards and I got more good lumber out of it. The nail situation on this particular pallet was pretty bad... they were heavy duty framing nails and many were bent, so cutting them was my only realistic option.
Now at this point if I had a planer I could plane them down smooth and see what kind of nice wood was hiding under the rough exterior. Since this is not the case, we'll be embracing the rough "rustic" look of these boards and only sanding them enough to take off any sharp spots.
Step 2: Cutting Top and Bottom Panels
Since the boards from my pallet were nearly an inch thick, I re-sawed one board into two thinner boards, which would become the top and bottom panels for the floating shelf.
For the top panel I drilled holes every couple inches, and then used the table saw to cut slots up to the holes. These slots will hold any charging cables coming out of the shelf (you'll see that later). I also cut a small semicircle to act as a finger-hold for removing the top panel.
For the bottom panel I cut a few very shallow slots about 1/2-inch wide. This will be for the power cord on the power strip. Technically you only need one, but I put one in the center and one on each end for more flexibility in the future.
Step 3: Cutting the Sides and Front
Using the planks from the pallet, I cut two side pieces as long as the top panel is wide. Once these were cut, I laid out the top panel, and the two sides to come up with the overall length needed for the front board (this is probably best illustrated in the video). Once I had this measurement marked, I cut the front piece to length.
Step 4: Cutting French Cleat Hanging Pieces for the Back
I really appreciate the stability and simplicity of hanging items on a french cleat, as I've begun hanging several tools and other items in my garage this way. Essentially you mount one piece to the wall with a 45-degree angle cut on the top, and whatever you're hanging has a matching angled piece on it. Typically this is done with wood that is at least 3/4" thick. In my case I had wood that was thick enough. If you have a typical pallet with thinner planks, I would recommend gluing them together to make a thicker piece, or just using a thicker board.
Using another pallet board, I cut this 45-degree piece as a narrow board to run along the back of the shelf. This piece will be hidden from view but still allow you to easily hang it on the wall. We should also have enough open space on the back to insert the power strip later.
Step 5: Assembly
Overall, the assembly process consists of a lot of glue, clamps, and a nail gun. You're essentially making a box with the most visually interesting pallet boards on the front and sides. The bottom panel gets glued and nailed into place permanently with the power cord slots toward the back.
The top panel does not get attached (as it will be removable). However the french cleat hanger, and another long strip are glued and nailed near the top to act as supports for the top panel. To mount these evenly I placed the two supports up on some 3/4" scraps on my workbench, and then glued and nailed them into place to the shelf turned upside down. This ensured they would be 3/4" down from the top; enough room for the top panel to sit and still have a small ledge sticking up to prevent the charging devices from falling off the shelf.
Step 6: Finishing
Of course when it comes to finishing wood you can do almost anything that suits your tastes. Since this project cost me almost nothing I wasn't afraid to experiment with something new: black wood stain. After some sanding I applied stain to the entire piece, and finished with some polyurethane for a little shine and protection. Honestly I wasn't sure if I liked it since the black really hid any bit of visible grain, but after I gave it a light sanding I could see small highlights of unstained wood showing through on the high spots, and it suddenly became more visually interesting. It's grown on me, and I like how it looks in my office. However I may decide to build a bigger one to replace it in the future, and will probably try some other finish.
Step 7: Hanging the French Cleat
One of the advantages of using a french cleat is that it's much easier to mount and level one board than it is to do an entire shelf.
I located the studs on my wall, marking their locations on some blue tape, drilled one side, leveled the piece, and drilled the other side. To keep the sheetrock dust off the carpet I taped a paper grocery bag to the wall to catch the debris. Screws were used to mount to board to the studs.
Step 8: Installing the Power Strip and Chargers
The power strip was inserted from the back of the shelf, and the power cord directed through the small slot in the bottom.
Once the power strip was in place, I plugged in my device chargers. While it was a bit tight inside, they fit well. The loose ends of the charger cables were then run through the slots in the top so they would be accessible on the shelf.
Step 9: Charge!
Now plug in your devices and charge!
I really should have done this sooner. Having the mess of cords off my floor and shelf is wonderful, and I find I use my new shelf-charger all the time. As a result, my devices stay charged more often because it's easier to plug them in now.
This was a fun and very useful build. Like I mentioned before, if I did this one again, I might make it bigger to accommodate more items and chargers, and maybe experiment with other finishing techniques. If I was really dedicated to the clean look, I'd put an outlet in the wall and hide it behind the shelf, but I'm not ready to take it that far. For now I'm good with the visible power strip cord, it's definitely an improvement from what it was before.